Thursday, December 30, 2010

Issue Six and One-Half, Volume One

From the Editor,
     Hello, my apologies for the long wait on the next issue, the SAM team and I hope to be back on track soon. Issue Seven will be out for real on Sunday, January 9. Also in the works is a Youtube channel.

Daniel J. (Kiddy) Pool

      This month we are featuring Psychotic Reaction(an Oklahoma band)'s video "Your Mind is a Haunted House".  For a garage band they are catchy and thought provoking, though the video (while creepy) is weird. Enjoy!

     We hope you enjoyed it and check back here at Street's Ahead on January 9th.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Issue Six, Volume One

 From the Editor's Desk,
     Greetings! Here at the office we (the  have been swamped with school), but only have two weeks left in the semester!
     We figured out the intricacies of mounting WAV files onto blogs, how to record WAV files, how to con friends and fiancees into recording those WAV files, and not necessarily in that order. However we are happy to say we have developed the means to record radio dramas and put them onto the website. Our first drama will be "The Krumps" by Meredith McLean, once we rerecord it (the first go was not something I would wish on any writer's work).
     Co-editor Quentin A. Pongratz  has been posting some of his stories to here.
     Thank you for reading and we should be back to normalcy next month. We will keep you posted.
     Daniel "Kiddy" Pool

By – Jay Taylor
            Shirlie Vill prepared for her visitor.  Her gray-streaked hair pulled up in a tight bun causing her sparse eyebrows to arch wickedly.
            She placed a wooden box on the display counter and dusted the deep grained lid, paying close attention to the brass hinges and latch.
            Shirlie hummed a tune.  Her visitor would arrive soon and everything should be in place.
            Adding to her collection was the best part of her little shop.  She enjoyed when obsessed people wandered into her shop, called there by a special item.  But expanding her collection was always better.
            Occasionally, a desperate soul would enter her corner of reality seeking a gossamer promise.  Some sought it because they were old and dying, others because they were young and foolish.  Either way, Shirlie would fulfill that promise.
            Just as Shirlie finished her preparation Bill Rance, her guest, exited I-57 at Benton, Illinois and pulled into The Plaza restaurant. It was a low slung slumping brown building. The hazy rain made the structure look pitiful.
Bill entered and was not surprised to see the inside was as seedy as the outside. Yellowed wallpaper barely clung to the walls. The smell of stale cigarettes competed with coffee and bacon. The locals stared at him.  He stood there dripping in his trench coat and khakis, feeling unwelcome.
            The waitress behind the counter looked at him with deep, bag rimmed eyes.  She had a pencil lodged in her frosted hair.
            “You here to eat or you-ens just lost?” she asked in a quirky drawl.
            “Um, well I’d like to get some lunch if it’s not too early for it,” Bill said.
            “Hell, were opened twenty-four seven, hon,” she said as she turned and poured coffee into a yellowed cup, “You go ahead an order whatever tickles your fancy.”
Bill took a seat at the counter on a barstool covered with worn, red vinyl.  The patrons resumed their previous level of conversation and Bill ordered a diet soda and a BLT. 
Bill said, “Excuse me, ma’am would you happen to know how I could get to the…”
“You looking for Shirlie’s shop?”  The waitress interrupted him as she re-filled his soda.
 “Actually that’s exactly what I’m looking for.” Bill said.
“Thought so.  You had the same look as most the people coming here for her stuff.”
“So her place is popular?  I didn’t think she’d get that much business being out here in the middle of nowhere.”
“Middle of nowhere?  You got that right.  But she gets a pretty good piece of business coming in here.”
“Really?  I wouldn’t ’ve guessed that.”
“Yeah, most of ‘em stop here to get a bite and usually directions.”
“Well, it’s good to know I’m not the only one that’s come in here feeling lost.” He gave a halfhearted smile.
“Not even close to the first.  Hope she’s got what you’re looking for.”
“Me too. Me too,” Bill whispered to himself.
Bill confirmed directions, placed a large tip on the counter, and left. 
The wind and freezing rain bit through Bill’s pants like a thousand nasty insects with icicle teeth. He rushed across the parking lot to the shelter of his car.
As he drove around the Town Square, Bill saw a white sign plastered to the front of a large, dilapidated building.  It read, “The Historical Wood Building – Restoration By Don’s Contracting – Funded by Shirlie Vill.”
“Hmmm… Seems Shirlie is doing pretty good for herself.” Bill said.
He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he made his way through town, passing closed businesses.  He saw a couple vagrants huddled in the stoops of old buildings and some too-thin dogs chasing a squirrel through an empty lot of debris and concrete.
Then Bill saw the small building. 
A homemade sign spun and whiplashed in the gale as it dangled from a single chain.  All the windows were dark.  A small sign indicated parking was located in the rear.
He sat in his car for a moment, calming his nerves as anticipation mounted.  He had waited a very long time for this day.  He could only hope she would have it.
The jangle-clank of the rusted chrome bell strapped to the door startled Bill as he entered.  The interior was dimly lit.  Here and there in the ocean of shadows, he could see strange items illuminated by islands of light.
The air was tinted with a spice akin to ginger.  Everything was silent; even the sound of Bill’s steps were muted as darkness gobbled them up.  He trailed his way through the tight walkways, occasionally touching items and gazing through hazy glass at tiny, brilliant baubles.
Bill saw everything from handmade rag dolls to shrunken heads.  Amateurish paintings dotted the shelves and walls next to elaborate jewelry displays. 
There was no sense in the way the items were arranged.  It was as if Ms. Vill had placed things as she received them – giving no thought to organization or inventory.
“You’re right you know.”
The voice shattered the silence like a hammer hitting crystal and Bill jumped.
“Excuse me?” Bill said.
“What you were just thinking.  You know.  That you could find anything you wanted here.  You’re right.  You can,” the voice said.
The short, round-bellied figure appeared from around the corner just in front of Bill.  Her bun was still tight and her thick glasses glinted in the gloom like a beacon in the night.
“Oh yes, was that what I was thinking?” Bill said, “I guess it was.”
“Shirlie Vill, proprietor and antiques expert extraordinaire,” she said, extending her gnarled little hand.
Bill took her frail, birdlike, hand.  It felt chilled and slightly damp as he grasped it.  Despite the dampness, their handshake rasped like a file on old wood.
“Bill, uh, Bill Rance. Amazed customer, I guess,” he said.
“You seem to guess at a lot of things there Bill.  Can you guess why you came all this way?  What was it an hour and a half, two hours from old St. Louis.”
“Yeah, yeah about that.  What I came for?”  Bill’s mouth seemed as dry as cigarette ashes and tasted about the same.
“That’s the question isn’t it?  Why come all this way?  You think there’s something here you can’t find in St. Louis?”
“Actually, I hope so.  I saw your ad on an old flyer about ten years ago when I took my kids to the Arch.  It said I could find my heart’s desire here at your store.”
“Ten years is a long time to wait for such an important thing,” she said, “What kept you?  Hmm?”
“Kids.  My wife left us a long time ago, I raised them by myself.  They’re grown and gone now.  So I decided to come and see if it was here.”
“Your wife’s not here and neither is a cure for the cancer that’s eating you up from the inside,” Shirlie said, “But those aren’t your real desires are they?  Those are the surface things. Right?”
Bill looked at his wet shoes and scuffed them on the carpet. He ran a hand through his hair and nodded. “I guess so.”
“Alright, then,” Shirlie said, “Follow me.  Let’s get to it.”
Bill obeyed.  The world had closed in and was no more.  All that existed was this store and he knew she had the answers he needed. 
Shirlie had his heart’s desire.
At the counter sat the large box Shirlie had prepared earlier for Bill’s arrival.  Its newly polished lid glowed from within as if on fire.
Shirlie walked to the opposite side of the counter. Bill cleared his throat a few times as if to speak.  She didn’t acknowledge him.
She climbed her tiny stepladder so she was eye level with Bill. 
Shirlie lifted the lid and turned the box so Bill could look inside.  He was amazed at the artistry involved in creating the remarkable contents of this beautiful box.
“See here Bill?”
He nodded.
“Am I right that you want to live forever?”
  “Yeah. I guess that’s it. No more cancer.”
“I knew it ten years ago when the cancer first started in your prostate.  I knew the moment you touched my flier.”
He stared at her with awe.  He didn’t know what was happening, but she seemed to grow, expanding the whole room along with her. Bill stood on the counter.  He was looking into her giant spectacles and at the enormous wooden box.  Shirlie placed a beautiful platform made of marble in front of Bill.
“Go on Billy boy.  Step up and take your place.  You came in seeking eternal life and that’s what you got.”
He stepped up and realization settled in as she placed the glass dome over him and the small platform. 
Shirlie placed him next to a dozen other tiny people inside her box; all with horrified smiles frozen on their rigid faces, and all of them getting their heart’s desire – Immortality.
Shirlie grinned and tapped the glass dome over Bill’s new home.
“See Billy? You almost complete my collection. You get to take the sorry sap slot.”

About the author: Jay Taylor is an amateur writer who is currently trying to get an agent for my completed fantasy novel. He has no formal writing credentials but has written for many years and decided to approach it as a business. I recently moved to the SF Bay area with his wife and son.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Issue Five and One-Quarter, Halloween Spectacular

From the Desk of the Editor,

     Welcome to the Halloween Spectacular Edition of Streets Ahead Magazine! Its been a busy week for me as I went to a journalism/writing conference in Kentucky (not Louisiana as previously thought). I will be posting transcribed notes from the conference on various topics from blogging tips, how to layout a print magazine, and how to publish a novel (by the way, I want to be Max McCoy when I grow up) to my writing blog on Concerning Fiction in the weeks to come.

     I hope you all enjoy the first ever SAM choose-your-own-adventure and have a happy Halloween!

Daniel "Kiddy" Pool

Trick or Treat, or Else


The killer, clad in black, crept behind the heroine. His hand grasps the knife till his veins bulged and the music intensifies. The pipe organ's shill cry joins the violin's lament. She won't see him coming, but then...


The sound of the door bell makes you jump.

“Are you going to get that?” asks Ted from the couch.

Well? Are you?

--to answer the door go to II.
--to ignore it and see what happens in the movie go to III.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Issue Five and Three-Quarters, Volume One

From the desk of the editor,


Hello and greetings from the Staff of Streets Ahead. Here at the office we have been trying to search out advertising. If you know group, agency, or persons that offer low budget advertising or have directories of publishing firms please feel free to message us (we will qualify for Duotrope Digest next summer).


This past week we have been trying to get a time to meet with our sound tech to put together a radio drama of "The Krumps", but sadly we did not meet our deadline for today. He had several personal issues and then became violently ill with food poisoning (better now), however this meant we  will wait till the November issue to post the radio drama. With the time till then we should be more together.


Next week will be a special Halloween issue by my co-editor and I, not to give much away but the words "choose-your-own" will be in the title.


I will be in attendance to a journalism conference in Louisville, 89th Annual ACP/CMA National College Media Convention. If any reader is there I would love to stop for a chat or get some lunch.

Our biggest news is we have extended the upper word count to 7,500 words for submissions!


Anyway, on with this 3/4 of an issue.



Daniel "Kiddy" Pool


Moss at the Table

By Keith Arron Townley

Somewhere in between the terror of being;
With someone, And the terror of being with myself;
I find myself.

And perhaps if it is true, that as individuals,
We are nothing more than polaroids of memorable experiences Conglomerated, and 
scrap booked on top of one another,
Then perhaps it would be better to experience the taste and touch
Of a single finger, as opposed to holding the entire hand.

People, in spirit, are ugly creatures; And I confess to never so much as loving a woman
In so much as I am in love with the idea of her existence.
That such a creature would engage in conversation with a pen artist, would entertain  
my company, and perhaps leave me with something she believed to be undiscovered.

Even if such a frontier straddles the boundaries of my complex nature. Leaving me held 
together with post it notes and yellowed postage stamps, Things that live existence 
out on bookshelves and in closets, Their very value protecting them from use, 
possibility overriding practicality;
Until nothing remains but scrap paper bearing the resemblance of some Famed farm 
animal or man of the hour, each whose presence only serves as reminder
Of the hour of their purchase.
 But, in the spirit of keeping each other at heart's length, and an open mind equal to an 
open door, it would appear that an erasure of the equation would be about as virtuous 
a task as solving it, in saying that perhaps love should be left to those most willing to 
saddle themselves with the thought of it's existence. 

Keith Townley is a 23 year old student of history, communication, and psychology at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. He is a "warrior"-poet and part-time philosopher. His previous  works are extensive poetry on Myspace and Facebook as well as a work on depression and MMORPG ("WOW Depression").

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Issue Four, Volume One -- Fantasy Fiction Contest Issue

From the Editor's Desk

Hello and welcome to issue four of Streets Ahead Magazine of Fiction. Here at SAM headquarters we have a few set backs due mostly to personal difficulties (most of these difficulties are located between the back-of-the-head and the mouth, and the foots therein). We apologize for these set backs and hope to have them worked out of the system very soon. Until then we will be going to a once a month issue after the next release until December.

In good news we do have the results of the Fantasy Fiction Contest and our winner was Meredith Mclean! Congratulations! We hope to do another contest soon, most likely in December.

For those of you in our neighborhood of central Oklahoma, US--there will be a conference at USAO in the spring with the writer Margaret Atwood, it will be free to the public.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Larks,

Daniel "Kiddy" Pool

John Knox of USAO created this image for the magazine. It is entitled "Breaking Wave" and is proudly our first piece of artwork.

If you or someone you know enjoys making art we would love to see it, all work can be sent as regular submissions.

The Krumps
By--Meredith McLean

I sighed as I drove home from work. It wasn’t a loud sigh, it wasn’t even one of those heart-breaking, academy award winning sighs. It was simply an honest exhalation of air that had built up in my throat over the course of the day. My hands gently skimmed the steering wheel as I turned into my street. My left hand twitched at an odd angle. That was…interesting? I turned into my driveway and shook the hand a little. It must be just jittery from the cheap coffee at the office.

Stepping inside I greeted Heather, my loving bed buddy and soul mate, like I do every afternoon, a kiss on the cheek and a clunk as the briefcase hits the counter. I went in for the kiss and nailed the clunk then my fingers pitter-pattered along her back in a haphazard way again.

“Honey, that feels nice. Keep doing it.” She said surprised by my change in our afternoon ritual. I looked at her nervously.

“ I don’t know what that is, my hand’s been kinda’ shaky since I left work.”

She looked down at my now still hand then held it tight.

“Probably all that coffee.” she said.

“ That’s what I thought!”

After that I dismissed the thought and continued about the remainder of my day. I showered, got changed and embraced the monotone enjoyments of television. I reached for the remote and felt a ripple down the veins of my left arm again. This time it was much sharper and my hand knocked the remote control off the couch. I tried stretching my fingers a little more and felt the knuckles crack awkwardly within the skin that encased them. I couldn’t say hello to my wife properly. I couldn’t even watch T.V. I decided an early night would be the perfect cure.

When I woke it was ten past midnight, Heather was shrieking in bed next to me when I realized my left arm had swiped and scratched her face. Consciousness slapped me in the face and I sat upright wrenching my infernal hand away from her mouth.

“Heather! Are you okay?” I called through the dark on the verge of panic.

She spluttered for a moment but finally produced a decent sentence.

“I don’t know what’s happened but I slipped into bed to cuddle you and your damn hand flung out and smacked me!”

I hushed her and squeezed her tight until my fingers wriggled uncontrollably.

“Maybe it’s nerve damage?” I suggested when the roughest of the quakes settled down and my arm lay out on her lap occasionally jumping to some unheard rhythm.

“Who knows? I’m calling a doctor to come check it out,” she said sternly. She certainly knew how to take charge of situations in the bedroom.

I sat in the dark while my hand tap-danced across the bed sheets. First it attempted classic tap then diverged into a hip-hop dance number. Finally it settled on imitating waves, wriggling back and forth, back and forth, all the while Heather barked down the telephone. When it sounded like someone was on their way to help Heather sat back down beside me, interlocking her fingers with mine. They tried to wiggle away but she held on tight. I stared at her face in the dark knowing she was doing the same. This did not look good.

The strange, foreboding and yet welcomed form of dark love was cut short when we heard a knock at the door. Heather got up to answer it and I heard a reply to Heather’s chirpy introduction. She strode in flicking on the lights as she passed then in stepped the man who would hopefully hold the diagnosis. He wore tweed trousers with a brown jacket holding in his pokey stomach. Small glasses clung to his eyes and he seemed to have this crazy idea that his beard would compensate for his balding head.

“Errgherrm, scuse’ me. I am the on call doctor tonight. Doctor Engelhart here to help you,” boasted the man.

I didn’t bother saying anything; I figured he would be capable to do all the talking.

“Your wife tells me you are suffering the tingles and jiggles in the left arm and hand, is that correct?” He asked pleasantly. I nodded and held up the rocking arm to demonstrate.

“Hmm,” he said, “Let’s see, let’s see…” He clicked his tongue to himself and lifted a heavy brown bag onto the bed. It made a softened thud on the bedspread and he began ruffle through its contents. After a lot of cursing under his breath the strange and probably inadequate doctor removed a small rubber hammer.

“Let’s see how those nerves a doing,” he said grinning inappropriately.

Unexpectedly for the man’s character he gently lifted my left hand and lightly tapped it with the small hammer. My fingers immediately convulsed and jerked about in ways I didn’t know fingers could even move.

“Mm-hmm,” Doctor Engelhart nodded as if this is what he expected. He took out a Popsicle stick and laid it flat on my palm.

“Now say Ahhhh” he commanded. I looked at him like he was a loon.

“Just kidding!” the Doctor shouted and roared with laughter. I gave Heather a good hard look and she looked back at me as if shouting, “Well don’t blame me!”

I prayed this strange, on-call Doctor would hurry up and do his job as he flexed my hand, tugged my fingers and shook my wrist. I honestly wondered if he had a clue what he was doing but I was interrupted from this analysis when he unfortunately spoke again.

“I have the diagnosis!” He shouted gallantly.

“Is it some sort of nerve damage?” asked Heather. The worry in her voice made me love her just that little bit more.

“Not at all, not at all” rambled the Doctor.

As he said this he was removing a bundle of instruments wrapped in material. He began to unfold it on the bed.

“It’s something much worse” the bundled clanged open revealing an assortment of scalpels and hatchets as he said this. My hand seemed to be listening to my emotions and began to flutter on my wrist as I breathed faster.

“How much worse?” I gasped.

“Nothing I can’t handle,” smiled Doctor Engelhart. “Now stay still so I can cut off your fingers”

“Wait! Cut off my wha-“ Before I could finish the sentence the hatchet made a quick, metallic slashing noise and sliced off all five fingers, leaving them limp on the bed.

I waited for immense pain and onslaughts of blood to spurt out; Heather rushed to my side expecting the same. But when I looked down there was no blood, there was no pain and Doctor Engelhart had been kind enough to only slice off as far as the nail. Suddenly this pleasant surprise reminded me a man had just cut off the tops of my fingers and the calm was replaced with astonished rage.

“Why the hell did you cut off my fingers?” I roared. I waved the severed hand in his face and cried out, “Who the hell let you become a doctor??”

Heather death stared the man and he held up his hands in defense.

“Please, please! Relax. I’m sorry to inform that you have the Krumps,” he gravely said.

“What on Earth are the Krumps?” Heather asked a little less than politely.

“Well Ma’am,” Doctor Engelhart began absent-mindedly as he packed up the knives, placing the severed fingers in a specimen jar, “the Krumps are worm-like creatures that develop from bacteria in the knuckles. Once they grow they feed off the blood flow in the fingertips and eventually and most unpleasantly take control of the hand,” he finished packing and looked up.

“You expect us to believe that rot?” I growled refusing to subside to this man’s nonsense.

“Yes, yes I do,” he said calmly.

Once again in that unexpected gentle manner he carefully picked up my hand and cooed to the remains of my fingers like they were little babies. I tried to yank my arm away in disgust but his grip tightened and slowly but surely I saw them. Small, scrawny and pink, foul looking wormy things stretched out of my chopped fingers. Black, bulbous eyes peered out searching for more blood.

“Yuck!” howled Heather. I silently gagged.

“Fascinating creatures really,” said Doctor Engelhart. “But, I know they must be gotten rid of so I’ll do what has to be done.” I sighed with relief and watched him take a canister from his brown bag, a steel case of liquid nitrogen. I smiled, cruel I know but I couldn’t wait to see the little Krumps get what was coming to them.

“Now, this will hurt a bit,” he warned. He turned the nozzle so it could spray and a hiss sounded from the can. The Krumps must’ve picked it up because suddenly they started flailing and screeching. As they erupted in anger my arm swung around too.

“Hold him down woman!” He shouted and Heather leapt on top of my arm.

Doctor Engelhart flipped the catch completely and let the icy liquid nitrogen spray all over the Krumps like a flamethrower. The nasty little things screamed and wretched in my fingers, their tiny mouths hung wide open and frightening cries escaped them. The pain seared through my hand and up my arm but I gritted my teeth looking at Heather the whole time. Even Doctor Engelhart looked like he was under immense stress as he blasted the living daylight out of these disturbing inhabitants.

Finally the spraying stopped and Doctor Engelhart sat back, heaving a sigh of relief. I looked down at my hand; traces of nitrogen scarred the edges of my sliced fingers and all that remained were blackened corpses of Krumps lying limp. I stared for a good, long moment and nothing moved. It was my turn to relax now.

“So what happens now, Doctor?” Heather asked. She was always the first to break silences.

“First let’s get you cleaned up,” he said to me and without waiting removed a pair of tweezers from his jacket and began to dispose of the disgusting piles of dead Krumps in the same jar as my fingers.

“Will I ever get my fingers back?” I asked despondently even though I already knew the answer.

“Nope, but the skin will grow over in time so it’ll appear you just have very short fingers. The good news is you won’t ever see the likes of these little buggers ever again,” he grinned as he tapped the jar. I nodded and a few moments of silence passed.

“Well, I think my work here is done,” the man smiled and stood up to leave.

“Wait, thank you so much Doctor Engelhart. You have done me and my husband a great favor,” Heather said feeling bad she had criticized our kooky savior earlier.

“Not necessary at all love. It is my job to tend to these medical emergencies and I expect nothing in return. I hope you both have a nice night. Though I expect the sun will be joining you very soon.”

Farewells were exchanged amongst us and Heather and I stood at the door as we waved goodbye to Doctor Engelhart. We watched as he placed the brown bag in the back of his car and drove off into the night. Leaving only the absence of his loud voice. We closed the door and looked at each other. Our hands interlocked again as we walked back to the bedroom and finally we cuddled until the peace of sleep infected us both.

Meredith McLean is in her final year of schooling in Australia. She has had a few stints with writing such as an article being published and winning a poetry slam contest. She hopes this site will send her into the orbit of the top dogs of writing.


We would also like to give an honorable mention to Laurel Stark for her piece "Giants and Pixies", as it was the inspiration for the Fantasy Fiction Contest and can be read here.


Thank you for reading. Remember we love to read fiction of all kinds! So if you have anything to send don’t worry about the genre. And as always we hope to see you next time on Larks Fiction.

Edited on January 21st, 2012